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Champ Games - Galaga 2600

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I just read now a moment ago, that the final-version will have a CO-OP mode for two players simultan on the screen. How great is this? SUPERB IDEA to integrate such a mode, i can imagine how much fun this will bring! :thumbsup:

Edited by AW127
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Hello there!

I just read now a moment ago, that the final-version will have a CO-OP mode for two players simultan on the screen. How great is this? SUPERB IDEA to integrate such a mode, i can imagine how much fun this will bring! :thumbsup:


Yes, that is correct. We actually finished co-op mode and it is graciously being tested by a few people including James (& Tayna) over at Zero Page Homebrew and Glenn (aka GRay Defender) & his family. Both have reported that co-op is a lot of fun and will be a welcomed edition to the final version!

We are also working on tweaking the CHALLENGE mode. In this special mode, you are only competing against CHALLENGE stages, earning and losing reserve ships based on your performance during each stage. The mode is fun & challenging in it's own right, but also a good way to practice the challenge stages for the real battle. ;)

Have fun! :thumbsup:

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As promised, here are the demo ROMs for Galaga for the 2600 (both NTSC and PAL60).

A few random thoughts, after seeing a video Willie! (Arcade USA) posted the other day, and trying it via my Harmony cart just now... (and now my 7 year old is at it)

 

  • As usual, this is an incredible piece of work! Well done, all of you!
  • I'm super jealous that there's still not a good Galaga-style game for the Atari 8-bit computers ;)
  • When I first got a 7800, back in the mid-1990s, I had very few 7800 games for it, and Atari's 1984 Galaga was one of them. I was so disappointed with it, I ended up selling the 7800 to a friend. (I was gifted another one ~15 years later, and it's now my 2600 game workhorse :) ) -- Suffice it to say, your 2600 version is way better. Perhaps we'll one day see a "proper" Prosystem version!?
  • My one niggle is that when I have dual-shot, I'm used to being able to hit two baddies next to each other, in their formation. (Based on my recollection of the arcade game, the (IMO) very good Nintendo NES port, and the PlayStation (original) version.) I wonder if the dual-shot bullets could be spread out a little, to account for the wider formation?

I played Galaga a lot as a kid, in my local Safeway grocery store. Years later, I'd go to a local "laser tag" place, and play the arcade games they had there. (Don't think I ever did do the laser tag. :) ) I frequented that place with a couple friends of mine to play Tekken 2 (before it came out for PlayStation). (Marianne was expert at reversals with Michelle Chang; Thea always stuck to Anna Williams; I focused my button-mashing on Marshall Law.)

 

Anyway, I discovered that days where I totally sucked at Tekken, I was awesome at Galaga. And vice-versa. There must be totally different parts of my brain dedicated to fighters vs. shooters. ;)

 

So... any thoughts on a Tekken port to the 2600? :D

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A few random thoughts, after seeing a video Willie! (Arcade USA) posted the other day, and trying it via my Harmony cart just now... (and now my 7 year old is at it)

  • As usual, this is an incredible piece of work! Well done, all of you!
Thanks!

 

  • I'm super jealous that there's still not a good Galaga-style game for the Atari 8-bit computers ;)

 

That would be cool! (and the 5200 too!) My first bit of game programming was way back in 81 on an 800 using BASIC, maybe one day Champ Games will return to where it all started. :)

 

 

  • When I first got a 7800, back in the mid-1990s, I had very few 7800 games for it, and Atari's 1984 Galaga was one of them. I was so disappointed with it, I ended up selling the 7800 to a friend. (I was gifted another one ~15 years later, and it's now my 2600 game workhorse :) ) -- Suffice it to say, your 2600 version is way better. Perhaps we'll one day see a "proper" Prosystem version!?

 

I think Atari did pretty well with 7800 Galaga for the time but with that said I never did play it much because it felt 'off'. Of course it didn't help that I first discovered it in the mid-90's right around the time I was starting my PC clone of Galaga (Galagon) so my expectations were a bit high.

 

 

 

  • My one niggle is that when I have dual-shot, I'm used to being able to hit two baddies next to each other, in their formation. (Based on my recollection of the arcade game, the (IMO) very good Nintendo NES port, and the PlayStation (original) version.) I wonder if the dual-shot bullets could be spread out a little, to account for the wider formation?

 

Hmmm, I could spread out the double fire but I would need to also spread out the ships which IMO would look strange. Also, with the shorter screen vs the arcade I find that you can hit most of the enemies before they even get into formation so it would make the game way too easy.

 

I played Galaga a lot as a kid, in my local Safeway grocery store. Years later, I'd go to a local "laser tag" place, and play the arcade games they had there. (Don't think I ever did do the laser tag. :) ) I frequented that place with a couple friends of mine to play Tekken 2 (before it came out for PlayStation). (Marianne was expert at reversals with Michelle Chang; Thea always stuck to Anna Williams; I focused my button-mashing on Marshall Law.)

 

Anyway, I discovered that days where I totally sucked at Tekken, I was awesome at Galaga. And vice-versa. There must be totally different parts of my brain dedicated to fighters vs. shooters. ;)

 

So... any thoughts on a Tekken port to the 2600? :D

I don't think I've ever played Tekken (maybe on the Playstation?) I've never really been into fighting games so a 2600 port is probably best left in the hands of someone with fond memories of the game, as that is one of my requirements for porting games to the 2600. :)

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I think Atari did pretty well with 7800 Galaga for the time but with that said I never did play it much because it felt 'off'.

I've just tried it on a retron 77 I got today and it feels totally amazing! Haven't tried it with my 7800 controller which I quite like but compared to the official 7800 release it feels just right. The hdmi to TV might be tricking me, but still it feels like an extremely competent game for the system of any year! Absolutely gorgeous game.

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Is there a specific stella core that I should point to in retroarch to get this working? The Stella core it defaults to, seems to give wonky graphics.

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  • I'm super jealous that there's still not a good Galaga-style game for the Atari 8-bit computers ;)

 


I wish there was one for the C-64! Atarisoft's version of Galaxian was terrible. I've checked out the new C-64 homebrew Galencia, but its gameplay is different. It reminds me of Starpath's Communist Mutants.

 

Thanks for the answers about the Retron 77. I'll still be buying one for my light sixer and jr! :D

Edited by WildBillTX

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Is there a specific stella core that I should point to in retroarch to get this working? The Stella core it defaults to, seems to give wonky graphics.

Stella Change Log

June 6, 2019

 

Stella release 6.0.1 for Linux, macOS and Windows is now available.

  • Added support for CDFJ bankswitching type (Galaga, Wizard of War, etc).
  • Allow the DPC+ scheme to not enable playfield 'jitter' effect for certain older DPC+ driver versions; this allows 'Epic Adventure' ROM to finally work in Stella.
-Have fun!

 

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Is there a specific stella core that I should point to in retroarch to get this working? The Stella core it defaults to, seems to give wonky graphics.

 

This is all a bit confusing at the moment, since we're between releases, but Galaga is such an awesome game that I'm doing interim releases :) So here's the story:

  • PC, Linux, macOS: use 6.0.1, which is basically 6.0 with the Galaga requirements backported.
  • Retron77: use the the most recent beta (6.1beta2), which is based on internal code that will eventually become release 6.1.
  • RetroArch: Use the 6.1 beta core; the other one is 3.9.3, and definitely won't work with Galaga. This is not officially released yet, but is on the Retroarch build servers.
  • For the adventurous: download and compile the latest mainline code from Git.

I don't normally release interim releases for exactly this reason, but I suspected that Galaga demo would be so huge that many people would want to play it. So that's the situation we're in now.

 

Also, you can also use Stellerator, which has had support for this for quite some time.

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"johnnywc", i have a question about the game, maybe you can give a reply? We all know now, that the game take advantage of the ARM-chip which is, for example, inside the Harmony cartridge. This ARM is a strong chip, but i guess, that letting GALAGA look as good as it is now, will not necessarily need such a strong chip? This chip is supported now, cause it is already there in the Harmony, which is widespread in the user-community, i suppose?

 

But what really would interest me - how much of this ARM-chip-power the game really needs and would it also be possible, to bring such a game on a cartridge with a much weaker special-chip too? A chip which can just about manage it? For example, something like the SuperFX chip or SA-1 chip, which was used in the past in some SNES-game-cartridges? I mean, a special chip, customized to the Atari VCS-2600 of course, but which similar power like some of these classic SNES special-chips. Theoretically possible or not?

Edited by AW127

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Wow, this is really impressive. I am so glad I got the Harmony cartridge. :) The old, commercial games are nice, and many of them are real fun. But the homebrew games are so amazing! I am really blown away every time!

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Hello!

 

We all know now, that the game take advantage of the ARM-chip which is, for example, inside the Harmony cartridge. This ARM is a strong chip, but i guess, that letting GALAGA look as good as it is now, will not necessarily need such a strong chip? This chip is supported now, cause it is already there in the Harmony, which is widespread in the user-community, i suppose?

 

But what really would interest me - how much of this ARM-chip-power the game really needs and would it also be possible, to bring such a game on a cartridge with a much weaker special-chip too? A chip which can just about manage it? For example, something like the SuperFX chip or SA-1 chip, which was used in the past in some SNES-game-cartridges? I mean, a special chip, customized to the Atari VCS-2600 of course, but which similar power like some of these classic SNES special-chips. Theoretically possible or not?

Good questions!

 

First off, I believe a pretty good Galaga port could be done with 16K and perhaps Atari's SuperChip which adds 128 bytes of memory (this was used in such games as Dig Dug, Crystal Castles, and Secret Quest). The Galaga kernel is basically an enhanced version of the Galaxian kernel that uses a combination of RESPx and NUSIZx (change object position and # of copies) to draw the enemies in formation, all with one sprite and no flicker, multi-color too. It should also be noted that the enemies in formation take 6 bytes of RAM to store (1 bit for each enemy). The extra RAM in the SARA chip would be used for storing the info on your ship, enemies in flight, reposition information for re-using sprites, missiles, etc. (you may even be able to get away without the SARA chip since Galaxian didn't use it either but it would be tough).

 

With that said, of course having the ARM allows for a much more enhanced game to be developed. The original intention of the ARM (I believe) was to emulate the DPC chip found in Activision's Pitfall 2. Galaga uses the CDFJ driver which is an extension of the CDF, DPC+ and DPC drivers (in that order). One of the key features of these drivers is the ability to update a sprite in 5 cycles (the original DPC could do it in 7, and methods prior to that would be around 13 give or take a cycle). What this means is that more TIA registers can be updated per scanline, so Galaga updates both player sprites (multi-color if needed), the ball and both missiles. Those extra cycles also make it possible to overlay the text on the screen (if you notice, Galaga uses 208 scanlines for game play, with the score and status overlaying the playable area). The extra cycles also also me to repositioning sprites more often using 1 scanline, so sprite re-use is higher, therefore there is less flicker.

 

Besides the kernel improvements, the ARM can also execute C code during Vertical blank (the time before the screen is drawn) and Overscan (the time *after* the screen is drawn). This is why I was able to port Galaga over in such a short time; I had the C code from my PC port of Galaga that I did back in 1997 (CHAMP Galagon) which I was able to reference, and in some cases just copy over (like the pattern data) with just a few changes (the PC games were written in VGA assuming a 256x200 playing area and the Atari play area is 144x208). Of course, the PC version of Galaga used much more ROM (400K) so squeezing all the game logic into 28K was no small task, plus I had the huge benefit of Nathan doing all the graphics and Ross doing all the sounds too! :D

 

So, what does the ARM C code actually do? It can't talk directly to the Atari (that all needs to be done in 6507 assembler). Well, for me, in VBLANK (the time before the screen is drawn), it basically sets up all of the datastreams to be read by the kernels to display the graphics. It should be noted that there is not a lot of time to do this work; just clearing out the buffers that store the data to be drawn takes up most of VBLANK. In Overscan, I execute the C code that does all the movement and collision detection, plus play sounds (which is just TIA sounds).

 

Anyway, I'm getting a little off base here, but to answer your question:

 

how much of this ARM-chip-power the game really needs

For the game to run as is, it is using as much as the ARM as it possibly can as almost all the cycles in VBLANK are being used. However, if the ARM was less powerful, I would most likely be able to keep the same features but would need to be more creative in using the ARM's resources. But, as I said above, I do believe a very good Galaga game could be written without the ARM, with the big losses being the eye-candy, probably the star field, and a bit more flicker. Also the overlaid score/status area would be pretty difficult so you would have a shorter play area.

 

would it also be possible, to bring such a game on a cartridge with a much weaker special-chip too? A chip which can just about manage it? For example, something like the SuperFX chip or SA-1 chip, which was used in the past in some SNES-game-cartridges? I mean, a special chip, customized to the Atari VCS-2600 of course, but which similar power like some of these classic SNES special-chips. Theoretically possible or not?

I'm not familiar with the SuperFX or SA-1 Chips, but in my opinion a good Galaga game could be made with a less powerful chip. If we were going back to something that would have been feasible in the 80's, if you had 32K ROM with extra RAM (SARA chip maybe, like Fatal Run), or perhaps a game with the DPC co-processor.

 

Hope that helps!

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^ What Johnny said above.

The ARM chip is there, originally, because it is cheap, easy to program cartridge hardware.

The ARM board design brilliantly emulates what a ROM/RAM cartridge would “show” to the Atari cartridge connector, updating each cartridge pin as it “pretends” to be a ROM chip.

The ARM, in this case at around 70MHz, spends over 80% of its time just doing this “pretending”.

Later they figured out how to use the less than 20% leftover idle time to run game logic.

 

Harmony design is not only for a flash multi-cart, but also “Melody board” AtariAge Store single cartridges.

 

Games that do not use bankswitching, and early simple bankswitching circuits can still be made fairly easily.

But when they were pushing the Atari 2600 with larger ROMs plus RAM (and Pitfall 2’s DPC chip) there were many parts inside.

It is far more expensive to purchase EPROM chips, RAM chips, and bankswitching circuit chips, when the ARM chip can be used for all that — and more as explained above.

EPROMS need to be “old stock”, erased and programmed, then put into a board.

RAM (like the Sarah chip) needs to be taken from the original games that used it - or a new circuit designed for “other RAM”.

 

What allows modern Homebrew to exist today is this “emulating” everything on the ARM, on a circuit board that is created and shipped to you with all the parts already on it, only having to plug that board into a programmer to put the game code into it.

Single cartridges would be double or triple the cost without using ARM, and how would you even have DPC-like co-processors made these days? FPGA?

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On 6/7/2019 at 3:01 PM, johnnywc said:

As promised, here are the demo ROMs for Galaga for the 2600 (both NTSC and PAL60).
 
Note:  If you plan on playing Galaga in Stella, the latest version with CDFJ is required (v6.0.1).  Please visit the Stella website to download the latest version.  A big thanks to Stephen and the Stella team for putting in the changes to support the game!
 
The game will also work in Stellarator and on real hardware with the Harmony or Harmony Encore.
 

 

This is a fully playable game with the following restrictions:

- The CHALLENGE MODE skill level (where you try to clear as many challenge stages as possible) has been disabled
- the CO-OP mode (2 players play together, each alternating control of a single ship or both controlling a ship when rescued) has been disabled
- Savekey functionality has been disabled, but high scores are still maintained for each skill level during play until the game is turned off
- The game loops back to Level 1 after Level 8 is complete.

GAME OPTIONS
 
From the title screen, you can select the # of players and SKILL level.
 
Press SELECT to toggle between 1 and 2 players.  For 2 players, each player alternates after the current player's ship is destroyed. 
 
Move the joystick left/right to change the SKILL level:

  • NOVICE: Player starts with double-ship, 3 reserves.  Difficulty ramp up is slower
  • STANDARD: Most like the arcade.  Player starts with single ship, 3 reserves
  • ADVANCED: More difficult than STANDARD.  Player starts with 1 ship and 2 in reserve.  Enemies move faster, enemy missiles are faster, enemies take off more frequently, extra ships are added during the fly-in sequence, etc.

Move the joystick up/down to cycle through the 4 menu screens.  If you do not move the joystick or start a game, the screens will cycle through after a certain amount of time.

  • Title screen
  • Scoring screen
  • Hi scores.  You can also press left/right to swap between the 3 high score tables on this screen.
  • Credits

DIFFICULTY SWITCHES
 
The left and right difficulty switches control the firing mode for Player 1 and Player 2, respectively:

  • When the difficulty switch is in the B position, Auto-fire is enabled.  With auto-fire, you do not have to press and release the button to fire multiple shots.
  • When the difficulty switch is in the A position, Auto-fire is disabled.  In this mode, you need to release the button between shots (this is how it is in the arcade).

To start a game, either press RESET or joystick 1 button.   
 
PLAYING THE GAME
 
Use the joystick to move your ship left and right to avoid incoming fire and to line up your shots to destroy the enemy.  Press the fire button to fire up to 2 missiles (4 missiles when your ship is doubled).  Destroy all of the enemies to advance to the next stage.  The final release will have 99 levels to complete.
 
THE ENEMIES

  • Bees (blue).  These enemies fly towards in a loop pattern towards your ship when attacking.  Be careful when they loop around to return back to the formation!
  • Butterflies (red).  These enemies fly in more of a zig-zag pattern towards your ship and wrap around the screen when they pass your ship.
  • Boss (cyan/blue):  These boss enemies fly alone or in packs protected by butterfly guards.  The boss ships require two hits to destroy them; after one hit they turn from cyan to blue.  Hitting them when they are blue will destroy them.
  • Split enemies (multiple): Starting on level 4, at some point during the level a bee will flash and split into 3 other enemies!  They will swoop towards you and circle your ship; destroy all 3 for bonus points!
  • Captured ship (red or blue):  When you ship is captured by a boss (see below), he is forced to fight for the opposition until he is freed!  Although he can be destroyed, you should instead try to rescue him so that he may fight for your cause once again!

TRACTOR BEAM
 
Occasionally during a level, a boss ship will fly to a particular spot on the screen and emit a tractor beam attempting to capture your ship!  If your ship is captured in the tractor beam, it will turn red (or blue for player 2) and join the enemy!  When he takes off from formation, shoot his captor to free him and double up your ship (and double your fire power!).  Be careful not to shoot the captured ship though!  With double fire, your two ships will each fire a missile at the same time (up to 2 each). 
 
Also, if you do not have any reserve ships and your current ship is captured, there will be no one left to perform the rescue and your game will end.  Be aware that if you are caught in the tractor beam, you can still fire missiles and may be able to shoot the boss ship and escape from the tractor beam as a last ditch effort.
 
If you shoot the captured ship's boss ship while in formation, eventually the captured ship will attack solo; you should avoid shooting him and he will escape the level and return in the next stage (during fly-in, so be careful not to shoot him there either!) where you will get another chance to perform the rescue.
 
CHALLENGE STAGES
 
Starting on level 3 and every 4th level after that is a CHALLENGE STAGE.  In this stage, the enemies do not fire and your ship cannot be destroyed.  The object is to shoot as many ships as possible (up to 40) to increase your score.  Shooting all 40 will result in a 10,000 point bonus.
 
SCORING

  • Bee: 50 points in formation, 100 points in flight
  • Butterfly: 80 points in formation, 160 points in flight
  • Boss: 150 points in formation.  In flight: 400 points with no guards, 800 points with 1 guard, 1600 points with 2 guards
  • Shooting all 3 'split' enemies: 1000 - 3000 points
  • Shooting all 8 enemies during a wave of the challenge stage: 1000 - 3000 points
  • Shooting all 40 enemies during a challenge stage: 10,000 points

An extra ship is awarded at 20,000 points, 70,000 points, and every 70,000 points thereafter

CONSOLE SWITCHES
 
During a game the console switches do the following:

  • RESET will reset the game with the current skill/# of players/options
  • SELECT will end the current game and return to the title screen
  • COLOR/BW (PAUSE on a 7800) will pause the game; press or flip the switch again or press the joystick button to resume.
  • LEFT/RIGHT DIFFICULTY: enable/ disable auto-fire player 1 and player 2, respectively (A = disable, B = enable)

TWO PLAYER
 
In two player mode, player 2's ship will have a blue trim (player 1 trim is red) and player 2's score will be light blue (player 1 score color is white).  Furthermore, when your ship is captured, player 1's captured ship is RED and player 2's captured ship is BLUE. 
 
GAME OVER
 
When all a player's ships are destroyed and there are no reserve, GAME OVER will be displayed followed by the shooting ratio results.  This includes the # of shots taken, # of hits and the hit ratio.  Note that when you have double fire power, firing two simultaneous shots only counts as 1 shot taken since since both missiles can only hit one target (the other missile is disabled once one of the missiles hits a target).
 
HIGH SCORE
 
If the current player achieves a high score for the current skill level, the high score entry screen is displayed.  Use the joystick to enter up to 3 initials.  Move the joystick up/down to change the current initial (blinking) and press the button to move to the next initial.  Move left/right to change the initial to update.  Once completed, press the button after entering in the 3rd initial to register your name and be added to the list of GALACTIC HEROS!  
 
Savekey support has been disabled for this demo.
 
CREDITS
 
Special thanks to Nathan Strum for all of his hard work the last few weeks, even as he was putting in 60 hour weeks at work!  His amazing work on the graphics and discussions on game design really inspired me to move forward with this project and enabled us to put the game together as quickly as we did.  He also was the sole game tester and found many bugs (some that wouldn't seem to go away!) so thanks again Nathan!
 
Also special thanks to Ross Keenum for his amazing sounds and music!  Ross and I hadn't met or spoke before I reached out to him a month ago and he was very gracious in providing me with all the help I needed to get the music and sounds put into the game very quickly.  He even spent some extra time making a few extra music and sound fx in short order!.  Thanks Ross!

Additional thanks for the extensive testing done by Steve Ramirez, Glenn (aka GRay Defender) and James (& Tayna) over at ZeroPage Homebrew, as well as Darrell Spice Jr., TJ, Dennis Debro and Mike Haas for additional testing and feedback. I hope I didn't miss anyone! :D


RELEASE PLANS
 
Right now the game is about 99% complete. Currently, we are targeting a release for sometime in late 2019 (I need to confirm with Al), possibly the Portland Retro Gaming Expo (October). Dave Dries has graciously signed on to do the box, manual, and label - thanks Dave! :) He has done amazing work on numerous AA projects, including Champ Games' own Scramble and the upcoming Wizard of Wor Arcade.

Have fun!
John

[attachment=640597:galaga_demo_NTSC.bin]
[attachment=640598:galaga_demo_PAL60.bin]

Hi, why can not I get the download links?

Thanks and regards

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7 minutes ago, Galactico said:
Hi, why can not I get the download links?

Thanks and regards

Hello there!

 

It looks like the attachments are temporarily unavailable during the forum upgrade, but the links should be fixed soon!  If they aren't corrected in the next couple days, I will re-upload the ROMs.

 

Thanks!

John

 

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2 minutes ago, johnnywc said:

Hello there!

 

It looks like the attachments are temporarily unavailable during the forum upgrade, but the links should be fixed soon!  If they aren't corrected in the next couple days, I will re-upload the ROMs.

 

Thanks!

John

 

Ok John, thanks!!!

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I'm not sure if I caught a STELLA bug, a rom bug, or if it's just my computer. When running MacOSX 10.7.5 with Stella 6.0.1, an issue happened whenever I pressed the left arrow key (move ship left) and option (fire) at the same time. It would swipe away Stella! and then I would have to click stella in the taskbar to get it back. The game seemed to still be running in realtime, and it seemed I got lucky and wasn't destroyed yet. This was the demo earlier in the thread. I'm not sure if the demos on page 7 that you can't download are updated versions or the same as the one I downloaded.

 

I would definitely buy this game as a cartridge from the Atariage store, especially if a free final rom is posted here on the thread. In fact, I think this is the second most exciting thing going on in 2600-land at the moment, first being Dan Kitchen's Keystone kapers 2 in progress. Galaga has never been on the 2600, and CHAMP are just the guys to do it. This looks REALLY cool. Wow. Exciting.

vcsgalaga2-768x375.png

Edited by orion1052003
who cares the reason for edit

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35 minutes ago, orion1052003 said:

I'm not sure if I caught a STELLA bug, a rom bug, or if it's just my computer. When running MacOSX 10.7.5 with Stella 6.0.1, an issue happened whenever I pressed the left arrow key (move ship left) and option (fire) at the same time. It would swipe away Stella!

 

It's an OSX keyboard shortcut. Go into System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts and uncheck the ones for Mission Control.

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1 hour ago, orion1052003 said:

I'm not sure if I caught a STELLA bug, a rom bug, or if it's just my computer. When running MacOSX 10.7.5 with Stella 6.0.1, an issue happened whenever I pressed the left arrow key (move ship left) and option (fire) at the same time. It would swipe away Stella!

I use the Spacebar to fire to prevent that. Could do what Nathan says, but I frequently use those OSX shortcuts. 

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